How To Install A Push Button Start Kit In Your Classic Car

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Most modern vehicles come with a push-button start, but what if you want it on a classic car? How do you install a push-button start kit for classic cars?

Installing a push-button start on a classic car provides both convenience and security for older model vehicles. Depending on the start kit used, installing a push-button start can range under a hundred dollars for DIY and over $100 or more if a professional installer does it.

While most current car owners are used to having push-button start on their vehicles, installing it on a classic car can be an excellent addition. The convenience of having a fob in your pocket or purse and getting in to start your classic and go makes it a tempting accessory. (Also, if your car’s ignition cylinder fails, this is another reason to consider the installation). How do you install a push-button start kit on your classic car? Is it a job that you can do yourself? Is it better to have a professional perform the repair? This article will address the issue of adding a push-button start on your classic car.

Table of Contents


How Do You Install Push-Button Start?

There are a variety of factors that you need to consider before purchasing a starter kit.

Purchase A Push-Button Starter Kit

Various push-button kits can be installed on classic cars, and many can also be used for remote keyless entry. (Two of the best are units made by VAIS technology or EasyGuard EC004). The push button can be mounted on the steering column (if that is where the ignition cylinder was) or on the dash (a popular option). Some push-button start kits have an RFID feature (which means the unit must have a transmitter fob close before the car can be started). Any classic car owner who wants to DIY the project should follow the installation instructions.

Remove The Steering Column Cover

Most steering column covers are held in place by screws and retaining clips. Remove the screws on either side and base of the column. (hold on to them - you will need them later). Once the screws have been removed, pull down on the base of the cover to free the retaining clips holding the cover in place. You should be able to see the wiring leading from the ignition cylinder down the column.

Disconnect the Negative Battery Terminal

Since you are working with electrical systems, it is always best to disconnect the negative battery cable ring from the negative battery post. This action will prevent electrical shock from the car and frying the new system.

(For cars with SRS systems, wait at least 90 seconds from when the key is locked before removing the negative terminal from the battery. If you do not, the airbag could accidentally deploy, which is not a good thing).

Determine Where You Will Mount the RFID Control Box.

Since push-button start systems work with antennas and transmitters, you must find a place to mount the control box. Most kits have mounting brackets that allow you to place them under or on the dash. Follow the specific instructions that come with your kit to install the control box and antennas.

Remove The Ignition Cylinder

While different makes have different ignition cylinders, most are held in place by a small plastic bracket that is locked into place with either a screw or a tab. Remove the screw, or press on the tab to release the lock on the bracket.

The key cylinder sits in a round tube, and most have a tab that must be pressed to release the unit. (Some cars require the key to be inserted and turned to the accessory position). Remove the key cylinder.

Identify, Mark, and Disconnect The Wires From The Ignition

Depending on the car and the push-to-start kit you use, you may or may not have to splice wires to connect them to the control unit. (Consult your owner’s manual or vehicle’s wiring diagram to identify which color wire goes to what item. For example, the battery wire is almost always red, the ignition wire can be yellow or red, while the ACC wire (for radio, lights, and windshield wipers) is almost always purple.

Many push-button start systems have plugs for easy connections. You may have to strip and install clips onto the ends of the car’s wires to hook them correctly into the RFID unit.

Locate the Brake Switch and Wire It

Some classic cars require the driver to press down on the brake pedal to start the car. This switch needs to be wired in for the push-button to start to work. Locate the brake switch wire and plug or wire it into the control unit. (Again, make sure to follow installation instructions).

Connect the Wires From the Push-Button To Control Unit

Following the instructions, plug in the start button to the RFID control unit. If you plan on placing the push button in the dash and need to cut an opening, do so now. (Be careful when cutting a hole into the dash).

(Some RFID control units have space for button placement). If you have installed them on the dash).

If you plan on using the old key cylinder hole, test the placement to ensure that it fits the way you intended. (Don’t install it yet, in case you’ve wired something wrong).

Reconnect the Negative Terminal To Test The System

Once the wiring is complete, it is time to test the system. Reconnect the negative battery terminal and activate the start button. If the vehicle starts, then you are good to go. If not, retrace your wiring steps to ensure everything is wired correctly. (Some push-button start kits require the button to be pushed twice or held in place to engage the ignition switch. One touch turns on the accessory switch). If you have a key fob with the system, it is an excellent time to test those components to ensure they lock or unlock the doors. (if the remote does not work, chances are you’ve misunderstood the wiring to the control unit of the conversion kit). Some doors automatically lock or unlock as the system recognizes the key fob.

Install the Push Button Module

Most push buttons have metal tabs on the back bent over the mounting hole's edges. Insert the button into the hole and lock the component with a small flat-head screwdriver. The push button mounting ring should seal flush to the surface, and if it doesn’t fit correctly, you need to figure out why and correct it.

Store or ZipTie Any Exposed Wiring

Carefully gather any exposed wires that must be tucked under the dash or held in the steering column. A simple zip tie can work very well for this purpose. (The last thing you want is a wire to get under your foot or hang shabbily from under the dash).

Reinstall the Steering Wheel Cover

Using the same mounting screws, reattach the steering wheel cover. Be careful not to pinch any of the wires as you are doing so. Once everything is in place, test the system again to ensure everything is functional.

What Are The Advantages Of Push-Button Start Kit?

There are several advantages to installing a push-button start on a classic car.

Ease Of Convenience

It is nice to avoid inserting a key to unlock or start the vehicle. With a push-button start conversion kit, owners can keep their key fob in their pockets or purse.


Having a push button start makes it more difficult for thieves to steal your vehicle. Since classic car owners cannot be around their cars constantly, a start conversion kit can help guard against the car being an easy target for thieves. If the engine doesn’t start without the key fob, thieves cannot break the cylinder lock and drive away with your beauty.

What Are The Disadvantages To A Push Button Start Kit?

There are some disadvantages to having push button kits installed on a classic car.

It May Affect The Value Of The Vehicle

Any time a modification is performed on a classic car, there is always the possibility that it can affect the value of the car. If an owner attempts to do the project themselves and messes up the wiring (so the car won’t start), this scenario requires more money to fix the issue. Holes in dashes or sloppy work on an install do nothing to help the vehicles’ value, no matter how well the remote start kit works.

Owners Are At The Mercy Of Technology

Unfortunately, push-to-start components only work, as well as the batteries that power them. If you die on the side of the road, it takes a lot more than a simple key to start the vehicle. Buttons may not work when you press them. Batteries in key fobs wear out, and it can be a hassle when they do. Modern technology might be fantastic, but when it doesn’t function correctly, it can be more than a minor aggravation.